10 Diverse Children’s Books for the Classroom

Little girl picking diverse books

The world is changing, and so is the way we teach children important lessons. Disabilities, race, and the idea of being different are a few topics that young children may not fully understand. Here are ten diverse children’s books to help tackle those important lessons in a way they can understand. 

Read more: 7 Friendly English LGBTQ+ Books To Use In Class

The World Needs More Purple People by Kristen Bell and Benjamin Hart 

Follow Penny Purple’s five-step instructions on how to be a purple person. You may be asking yourself why on earth purple? Penny’s answer to that is quite simple: the best things in the world are purple. Purple people are great at communicating and asking questions (even asking questions about questions!). They laugh a lot, whether it’s from a joke or a silly noise. When we laugh, it is impossible to be mad about anything! Purple people use their voices to help others when their voice isn’t strong enough. They are hard workers and are not afraid to be themselves. This book will teach children to embrace what makes them special and bring us closer together. 

Shop the book: The World Needs More Purple People

The Name Jar by Yangsook Choi 

Unhei and her family recently moved to America from Korea, and Unhei starts attending a new school. After feeling embarrassed by having a name that was hard to pronounce, Unhei decided by the end of the week she would pick an American name. She practised being called Amanda, Laura, and Daisy, but nothing felt right. On her desk sat a jar where the other students could write down ideas for her new American name. One day one of her classmates comes to her neighbourhood and learns the meaning of her name. When it is time for Unhei to pick a new name, the name jar is missing. With encouragement from her new friends, Unhei introduces herself to the class as Unhei (Yoon-Hey). This is a heartwarming story that shows no matter where you go, your name is beautiful and all your own. 

Shop the book: The Name Jar

A Ticket Around the World by Melissa Owens and Natalia Diaz

Travel around the world without leaving your room! Tag along with a young boy to thirteen countries on six continents. During the journey, you will meet a friend in every country who will introduce you to the environment, customs, and share a lot of interesting facts. You will learn about the country’s culture, such as food, geography, landmarks, language, and more. Journey to Costa Rica, India, Morocco, Greece, Canada, Brazil, France, Botswana, Chine, Philippines, Australia, United States, and Jordan. This book shows that no two countries are the same even if they border each other. At a young age, children can welcome different cultures into their lives and discover the world is much bigger than they think. 

Shop the book: A Ticket Around the World

little girl reading diverse book

Different: A Story About Loving Your Neighbor by Chris Singleton 

The only thing on Obinna’s mind was starting school in America after moving with his family from Nigeria. He could not wait to show all his new classmates what it was like to be Nigerian! When Obinna got to his classroom, all the other children laughed and made fun of his traditional Nigerian clothes and how his hair looked. All the things Obinna loved about himself suddenly made him feel embarrassed.

After running out of the classroom, his teacher shared some wise words. She told him to never be ashamed of who he is. Throughout the day, Obinna shared a special talent that allowed the other students to see how special he was. This book teaches children to embrace who they are no matter if they come from a different background, and everyone should be accepted for who they are. 

Shop the book: Different

The Girl Who Thought in Pictures: The Story of Dr Temple Grandin by Julia Finley Mosca 

Based on a true story, Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a very young age. By the age of three, she did not speak, and hearing words of how different she was did not help. She learned to talk just like the other kids, but her brain set her apart. Temple would not think of a word but see multiple pictures of the word instead. Her classmates did not understand and picked on her so much until she got kicked out of school.

After visiting her aunt on a ranch, Temple fit in as the animals thought in pictures like her. At a new school, Temple has encouragement from her teacher to pursue science and inventions. Her special mind allowed her to create inventions by memory, and she ended up going to college. Temple Grandin grew up inventing incredible agricultural inventions and become a motivational speaker. This inspirational book allows children to find something they’re good at and pursue it. 

Shop the book: The Girl Who Thought in Pictures

Firegirl by Tony Abbott 

In this coming-of-age novel, seventh-grader Tom and his classmates learn that the new girl, Jessica, was burned badly in a house fire. Jessica is attending school while she is treated for her burns at a nearby hospital. Despite her appearance and how the other students are scared of her, Tom learns there is more to Jessica than meets the eye. Tom slowly develops a friendship with Jessica that will change his life. This novel will have children discover no matter how we look on the outside we are all the same underneath. Also, they will learn what is important in life and what should be valued, and let go of what is not. 

Shop the book: Firegirl

little girl reading diverse book in library

The Sneetches by Dr Seuss

In this Dr Suess classic, we learn to embrace diversity and how unique we are. There are two types of Sneetches, those with Star-Belly and those with Plain-Belly. The Star-Belly Sneetches thought they were the best because of their stars and wanted nothing to do with the Plain-Belly Sneetches. The Plain-Belly Sneetches felt left out and desperately wished they had stars too.

One day a stranger with a strange machine said he could give the Plain-Belly Sneetches stars on their bellies for a price, and they could be like the Star-Belly Sneetches. This made the Star-Belly Sneetches mad, and for a price, the Star-Belly Sneetches went in the machine to get their stars removed. After all the Sneetches spent their money putting on and taking off their stars, the stranger left with his machine. At the end of the day, the Sneetches realized they are all the same no matter if they had stars or not. Children will love this book as it is a great example of diversity and segregation. 

Shop the book: The Sneetches

Ruby Finds a Worry by Tom Percival 

Ruby loved being Ruby! Ruby was always a happy girl who loved playing on the swings and going to the garden. Until one day she found a worry. At first, it was a little worry and did not bother Ruby at first. However, day by day, the worry got bigger. Ruby would see the worry everywhere, but no one else could see it. She pretended not to notice the worry, in the hope that it would go away, but, you guessed it, the worry did not go away.

Ruby was constantly worrying that her worry was all she thought about. After seeing a boy with a worry she realized that everyone has worries. Soon Ruby discovered how to get rid of her worry, and never worried about it again. This is a wonderful book that teaches children if something is on their minds to speak up. There is also a hidden message about anxiety and if they have a lot of worries to talk to someone. 

Shop the book: Ruby Finds a Worry

little boy reading diverse book

My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best

Zulay is a blind little girl with three amazing best friends. Zulay’s best friends help her out and goof around. In school, Zulay uses her other senses to help her throughout the day. She doesn’t like to be different from the other kids because she does not want to stick out. Zulay and her best friends are all in the same class and learn the same things, just Zulay is learning a little bit differently. One day her teacher asks the students what they want to do for field day. Zulay says she wants to run a race and surprises everyone with the idea. With the special help of her friends, she does just that. This book describes to children how differently blind people act and “see”. It also shows that although someone may be blind, they still have the same dream and ambitions as us. 

Shop the book: My Three Best Freinds and Me, Zulay

little girl and teddy bear reading diverse book

Mixed: A Colorful Story by Arree Chung 

In the beginning, there were three colours: the loudest reds, the brightest yellows, and the coolest blues. They all lived together in harmony until one day the colours started to argue about which colour was the best. That was when the colours separated into their parts of the city. One day a blue and a yellow became best friends. The other colours were not happy about it since colours should not mix. That is exactly what they did, they mixed and created a new colour: green!

Green was bright like yellow and cool like blue; she was very unique. The colours loved her and wanted to mix too. The other colours mixed and mixed until there were so many beautiful new colours. The old primary colour towns were rebuilt to fit all the colours, and they lived happily ever after. This book will teach children that no one person is better than another, regardless of their skin colour.

Shop the book: Mixed

The post 10 Diverse Children’s Books for the Classroom appeared first on The TEFL Academy Blog.

I have been traveling and teaching ESL abroad ever since I graduated university. This life choice has taken me around the world and allowed me to experience cultures and meet people that I did not know existed.

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